Arlington, Virginia, a stone’s throw from Washington, DC, is a vibrant city that is more than just a historical setting — there are tons of entertainment options including museums, nightlife, shopping, dining, and numerous playgrounds, public green spaces, and kid-friendly spots.
Where is Arlington, VA?
Arlington is located in Northern Virginia and sits south of Washington and north of Alexandria, just across the Potomac River. According to the most recent Census, the current population in Arlington is about 244,000 residents – and growing! The county sits on approximately 26 square miles and has a racial breakdown of 70% caucasian, 10% Asian, and 10% black or African American residents. Arlington is known for being just a short metro ride from our Nation’s Capital and offers many easy routes by bike or car to get into DC. If you’re interested in learning more about Arlington, VA demographics, check out our blog post with stats and figures for the different neighborhoods.
Outdoor Things to Do in Arlington, VA
When the weather cooperates, there are tons of outdoor places to explore to get in touch with nature in Arlington. Residents can spend time with friends, family members, or pets, enjoying dog parks, splash parks, playgrounds, and picnic areas. There are a number of sites in Arlington that are worth a visit. Whether you’re a long-time Northern Virginia resident or you’re just visiting temporarily, these are some of the best things to do outdoors in Arlington.
1. Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is a military cemetery spanning more than 600 acres in Arlington, Virginia. It features the house of Robert E. Lee, gardens, and outbuildings, including former slave quarters. It’s the location for 28 major and 142 minor memorials and monuments. One of the more popular activities for tourists is attending the Changing of the Guard ceremony which takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every hour on the hour. Arlington Cemetery was established in 1864 and is owned by the Department of the Army. Admission is free.
2. The Mt. Vernon Trail
Cyclists and pedestrians alike can enjoy this 18-mile trail that runs along the Potomac river. Trail users can either start at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate and bike along the water towards DC or begin at Roosevelt Island and head south. The trail winds through Old Town Alexandria, tree-lined neighborhoods, and even offer spots to stop and picnic along the way.
3. Theodore Roosevelt Island Park
Theodore Roosevelt Island is one of DC’s hidden gems. Located a short walk from Georgetown and linked to downtown Rosslyn via a short pedestrian bridge, this 90-acre island in the Potomac River feels like it is worlds away from a major city. The boardwalk trail keeps you elevated above the marsh grasses and makes for excellent birdwatching. It gets crowded on the weekends, so go early morning or late day to avoid the crowds (and snag a bike dock or parking space).
4. Gravelly Point Park
Gravelly Point Park is a unique outdoor spot in the DC area. Located just north of Reagan National Airport in Arlington, VA, Gravelly Point is the go-to spot for aviation enthusiasts and those hoping to catch a glimpse of planes up close. Kids and adults can enjoy the roar of jet engines overhead as airplanes land at the airport just yards away. If you have sensitive ears, bring ear plugs, because it’s awe-inspiring but incredibly noisy!
Entertainment in Arlington
5. Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse
Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse is a fun event location not far from the Waycroft that offers movies, stand up comedy, concerts, presentations, and more. Customers enjoy entertainment in an old-school, 1930s theater setting and can order food and beverages during the shows. With a fully stocked bar, full dinner and dessert menu, and convenient table service, Arlington cinema ‘n’ Drafthouse is a great place to catch a show!
6. StarMed Capitals Iceplex
The StarMed Capitals Iceplex is a large indoor skating rink in Ballston. It is where the Capitals hockey team practices, and you can watch their practices for free! When the pros are not out on the ice, the rink is open to the public. There are public skating hours, kids and adult hockey leagues, and skating camps throughout the year. The StarMed Capitals Iceplex is the perfect spot for indoor exercise during the winter months and is perfect for kids’ birthday parties or even date nights.
7. Village at Shirlington
The Village at Shirlington is a cute spot to grab a bite, wander around, or hop on the Custis Trail for a leisurely walk, jog, or bike ride. The Village is a large outdoor shopping center that was the first of its kind to open in the DC area and one of the first in all of the US. There is a large public library at one end of the block, numerous restaurants, cafes, and dining options, a movie theater, and a handful of larger office buildings. Located just off of I-395, it’s easily accessible by car and a great spot for cyclists to stop for a cold beverage and a breather during a long ride.
Places to Learn in Arlington, VA
8. The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the center of military intelligence for the entire country and employs thousands of workers within its five walls. Members of the public can sign up for a guided tour and learn about the operation of the Defense Department and the history of the building. Additionally, there is a touching memorial located on-site to commemorate those who perished during the September 11th attacks on the Pentagon. It is not to be missed.
9. Arlington Central Library
The Arlington Central Library located in Ballston just a few blocks from the Waycroft is a wonderful resource for all members of the community. There is an excellent children’s section with numerous events and activities for kids as well as computers to help with personal research or academic projects. The library is bright and spacious and offers free parking which makes it the perfect place to spend an afternoon!
10. Arlington Historical Museum
Just up the road from the Pentagon, the Arlington Historical Museum, located in the Hume School, houses many of Virginia’s oldest artifacts. It is located at 1805 South Arlington Ridge Road and there is free parking for those who drive. It is about half a mile walk from the Pentagon City metro. The museum preserves the history of the local area from the 1600s to the present age. It’s open on weekends from 1-4 pm and admission is free.
Explore Arlington, VA
This is just a small snapshot of things to do in Arlington – but for those exploring the area, the options are truly endless. The neighborhoods of Ballston and Clarendon all offer numerous activities for locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re looking to grab a bite to eat, enjoy the great outdoors, or spend a day entertaining the kids, there is always something to do. The Waycroft is located in the heart of Arlington right in the midst of everything. Contact us today to learn more about our apartment homes in the Ballston neighborhood.